out of Five
Running time: 110
A meaty thriller/horror blend which delves deep into the male psyche and the effect military service has had on the population of Israel. Tense and brutal with a macabre sense of humour.
What’s it all about?
When a father is told of his young daughter’s grisly death he takes revenge by kidnapping the Bible studies teacher he suspects killed and raped her, and tortures him in a bid to find out where she is buried. He is joined along the way by unsuspecting cop Miki who bumbles his way into trouble, and also eventually his own father, who teaches him his finest torture tactics.
Given that Big Bad Wolves deals with the darkest crimes and aspects of human nature, (paedophilia, murder and torture) it manages to mix the horrific with the hilarious with a razor sharp precision. This is mainly down to a meticulous script, some terrific performances and the filmmakers’ ability to gauge the tone correctly.
Despite the level of violence and gore on show here the filmmakers are more concerned with illustrating the relationship between father and son, specifically in an Israeli setting. The men here have all served in the military and learnt how to kill, torture and defend themselves to the bitter end. Keshales and Papushado may utilise a sick sense of humour in the way they dissect the roots of violence but they steer clear of glorifying torture, as the bloodshed only leads to more brutality with no clear winner at the end. Just as their first feature film Rabies dealt with the infectious and escalating nature of violence, Big Bad Wolves leaves us with much to think about on leaving the cinema.
The fairy tale imagery and Hitchcockian tension serves Big Bad Wolves extremely well, with innocent children playing hide and seek in the woods bringing an incredibly atmospheric foreboding to the cruel and dark path the audience is about to be led down. This bricolage of Korean horror, seventies thriller and Brothers Grimm is handsomely constructed and will both chill you to the bone, and make you cry with laughter.
Big Bad Wolves is menacing and hilarious in equal measure, which is a difficult feat to pull off when dealing with such dark subject matter, but Keshales and Papushado do exactly this with buckets of style.